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2017 Cadillac Escalade Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Cadillac Escalade was new.


Performance: 7.6

Thanks to a strapping V8 engine and a well-geared automatic transmission, getting up to speed in a 2017 Cadillac Escalade is a nearly effortless endeavor. This same refinement doesn't carry over to ride quality, though, where the Escalade's truck-based platform yields a rougher ride than many in this class. You'll feel every inch of this massive SUV's heft when piloting it around – especially in narrow areas – though the Escalade is more agile than like-sized competitors.

  • "Despite its size, the Escalade is exceptionally easy to drive. The eight-speed transmission and 6.2-liter V8 make a good pairing." -- Edmunds
  • "On the road, the Escalade drives much as you'd expect: like a big, bulky truck." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • "Its traditional truck-type construction means that the Escalade's handling is not as polished as some competitors, but it … can out-tow those rivals." -- Consumer Guide (2016)

Acceleration and Power

Powering the 2017 Escalade is a 420-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 engine, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Power is satisfyingly ample, even with the extra weight of the extended-wheelbase ESV body style. You can pass and merge on the highway in the Escalade without worry, and tow up to 8,300 pounds.

Fuel economy is marginally above the class average for luxury large SUVs. With rear-wheel drive-models, you can expect 15 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway. With the available four-wheel-drive system, highway fuel economy drops to 20 mpg, but city mileage remains the same.

  • "The big, 420-hp V8 has tons of torque, which helps give the Escalade easy and effortless acceleration. A regular Escalade we tested accelerated from 0 to 60 mph in just 6.4 seconds, and the ESV is likely just a few tenths slower. It also makes a great V8 rumble along the way." -- Edmunds
  • "The gutsy 6.2-liter V8 in the 2016 Cadillac Escalade SUV is much like its host: big, bold and robust." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "The V-8 moves both the standard-wheelbase Escalade and the ESV with authority, but if you'd rather leave the driving to computers, adaptive cruise control with brake-to-stop (an Escalade exclusive) is newly available—although it isn't the smoothest chauffeur in stop-and-go driving." -- Automobile Magazine (2015)

Handling and Braking

Shoppers expecting a relaxed, effortless ride may be disappointed by the Escalade. This SUV is built like a truck – unlike many crossover SUVs that use a carlike chassis – which means it also handles more like a pickup than a luxury vehicle. Its standard magnetic ride control suspension rapidly adjusts to changing road conditions and helps smooth out the ride somewhat. The available 22-inch wheels are not recommended if you want to keep your ride as silky as possible.

The Escalade's handling is better than you might expect from an SUV of this size, though because this is a truck-based SUV, it won't be as agile as a smaller 3-row crossover like the Audi Q7. Sport mode improves cornering ability but adds even more stiffness to the ride. Front-wheel drive comes standard, and the available four-wheel drive works well, especially on snow or dirt (though the Escalade's size rules out adventurous off-roading).

  • "For all this, the Escalade doesn't deliver the luxurious ride quality that we expect from this brand. Even with a Magnetic Ride Control suspension system that allows the driver to tailor its performance to the driving situation, the occasional bump and thump remind you that the Escalade is derived from a truck chassis, not a car platform. Much of this lack of refinement can be attributed to the stylish 22-inch wheels, which must carry tires that feature narrow sidewalls that transmit vibration from the road into the passenger cabin." -- Edmunds
  • "When equipped with 4WD, the Escalade proves remarkably capable of tackling snow-covered roads and dusty trails, although its size precludes it from venturing too far off road." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)
  • "Even though this is a very comfortable SUV, Cadillac hasn't sacrificed handling ability. Surprisingly, this new GMT K2XL chassis handles like a much smaller vehicle." -- Autoblog (2015)

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